The Rifle – Gary Paulsen

Now and then, with great rarity, there came a blending of steel and wood and brass and a man’s knowledge into one rifle, when it all came together just … exactly … right and a weapon of such beauty and accuracy was born that it might be actually worshiped.” (page 4-5)

Title: The Rifle
Written by: Gary Paulsen
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: Bantam Doubleday
Publication Date: October 31, 1995
Paperback: 105 pages

The Rifle follows the life (can you call it ‘the life’?) of a gun. A gun which made it’s first owner a famous sharp-shooter in the Revolutionary War and its last owner – well, not dead but dead.

Review skills are on point today.

This book is basically Bridge to Terabithia with guns.

Okay, fine, The Rifle is more like a history textbook with a depressing ending.

Which, to be honest, is most history textbooks.

It’s like the author started writing a textbook but decided the historical figures were too boring and threw in emotions.

pretty sure that’s the entire historical fiction genre.

The book goes in Grand Canyon depth (wow, this review just got deep) about the detailed (and occasionally disgusting) facts about guns and the making of them.

The guy used cow pee to clean/shine his gun.

Um… gross.

I read someone else’s review for this book and they ranted on and on and on and on and on about how “inconceivable” the plot was.


I get the point that it was stupid no one checked to see if the gun was loaded, but, the people who owned the gun didn’t know anything about guns made during the 1700’s.

They didn’t check for bullets because they couldn’t check for bullets.

And: NO I’m not spoiling the plot for you because it says on the book’s back cover that gun was loaded. Chill.

Of course, I agree its a flimsy argument – I’m just defending the author.


I have no idea.

It’s not like we’re BFFs or anything.

However, other than the textbookish vibes I got while reading The Rifle – I really did like the book.

It was intriguing, short, well written, short, had fascinating characters, and was, most importantly: short.

Did I mention I’m behind on everything but breathing. 

The story is a bit graphic in its descriptions so I can’t recommend it for younger readers – but any adults (or teens) who like historical fiction, political novels, or depressing novels (you know who you are) will enjoy this book.

For More Information about the Book and Author Click: HERE

Age Range: 12 and up


Violence: A man is shot in the throat. A horse is shot. A horse breaks his leg. Man who is about to he hanged breaks his neck. A woman is about to be hanged. A man dies from an “alcohol induced car accident”. A man is hung on a tree. A man dies a horribly slow/painful death from cancer. A boy is shot. Multiple people are shot. A woman attempts suicide multiple times. A man discusses the type of impact a bullet will have on flesh/bone. Dying of a broken heart, exploding artillery killing people, a Waco encampment being raided/burned/everyone killed, talk of World War Two, accidently shooting someone, men being shot, wars/war fighting, and dying/dying of illness is mentioned.

Sensuality: A boy thinks constantly about his girlfriend. Backstory leading up to the boy and girl getting into a relationship.

Profanity: none.

Other(drugs/alcohol): Several characters drink. Characters lie. A man misinterprets the words of Jesus. Boy has fever and ear infection. People make fun of other people. Man cleans a gun with cow urine. Dog dislikes Richard. Mass burial, diarrhea, dehydration, dysentery, tuberculosis, starving, cramps, throwing up, hunting animals, and convulsions are mentioned.

Personal Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Cleanness Rating: 4 out of 5 stars




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